Jobless Youth Take Action

May 7, 2012 by

Jobs Are Scarce for YouthThe unemployment rate for Americans aged 20-24 is 12.6% (20.2% for African Americans in this age cohort) compared to 8.1% for all would-be workers. Fewer jobs, lower starting pay, and crushing student debt are spurring U.S. youth to take action to resurrect the “land of opportunity” many had been raised to take for granted is their birthright.

(Here’s a link to an interesting table from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that presents labor force data by age, gender, and race: BLS April 2012 Labor Force Statistics.)

Organizing To Help Young People Find and Create Jobs

More organized and perhaps less ragtag relatives of the Occupy movement, the Campaign for Young America (CYA) and Fix Young America (FYA) initiatives aim to help secure the American dream—or at least head off a nightmare—for young people.

With a tagline reminiscent of the 60’s U.S. civil rights movement—“Ready to Lift Up the Voices of Our Generation”—CYA is the force behind an 8-week, 35-city National Youth Bus Tour scheduled to climax with two days in Washington, D.C. beginning today, May 7. The Campaign is a product of Young Invincibles, formed in 2009 “out of the recognition that young people’s voices were not being heard in the debate over health care reform” (from its website). The group’s mission has broadened to “representing the interests of 18 to 34 year-olds and making sure that our perspective is heard wherever decisions about our collective future are being made.”

CYA has produced a Debt Toolkit for young people. You can download it here (or from the CYA website):

 

The Young Entrepreneur Council sponsors Fix Young America. From its website:

“The YEC, an invite-only nonprofit membership organization, promotes entrepreneurship as a means to overcome youth unemployment and underemployment. Our mission is to spark an entrepreneurial revolution in America—and help rebuild the economy in the process. Today, with 1 out of 2 new college graduates unemployed or underemployed, young Americans must find a new way forward. To that end, the YEC seeks to put the tools and resources aspiring young entrepreneurs need directly in their hands, so they are empowered to create thousands of new businesses (and jobs).”

Here’s a short video from the YEC’s founder Scott Gerber:

This Is About Home Economics, Not Politics

Both organizations profess non-partisanship. Quoted in the New York Times, Mr. Gerber says. “We didn’t want to be held hostage by political rhetoric and agendas.” Young Invincibles co-founder Aaron Smith echoes this sentiment:  “Both Democrats and Republicans need to listen and respond to the concerns of our generation.”

But Will More Young People Vote?

By way of a brief commentary, I’d add this: I hope each organization will focus their energy on get-out-the-vote campaigns this fall. Unless young people vote, I suspect Democrats and Republicans will find little reason to listen and respond to the generation’s concerns. Even in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election—dominated by the young, some would say hip, Barack Obama—only 48.5% of those aged 18-24 turned out to vote, compared to about 67.4% for those in the age 45-54 bracket and 72.4% of Americans 65-74 years old.

What Do You Think?

Are you encouraged about America’s future because of these youth-oriented organizations? Do you expect more of today’s young people—compared to say ten or twenty years ago—will have to create their own job instead of find a job? If ‘create a job,’ would that be a good or bad thing for the U.S.?

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  • I guess that it’s encouraging to see young adults taking some initiative, but no…I’m not encouraged about our future because of it.

    The reality is that most of these college grads and students are young, dumb adults that have grown up taking things for granted and having life handed to them. You said it yourself: “…”land of opportunity” many had been raised to take for granted as their birthright.”

    Now, do we have problems with big business shipping jobs overseas and cutting down on our available jobs? Yes. But why does that happen? Oh, because we EXPECT to get paid a certain wage in this country and we can’t “survive” if we’re not making at least $40,000.

    If these kids wanted to get a job working some manual labor (like they did back in the day), I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have much difficultly finding one. ALL of the intelligent and hard-working younger adults that I know are employed and being paid well. 

    • Thanks for your candor and thoughtful comment.

      You should know that I’ve made earlier my usual post time because I noticed that you often do your commenting early in the morning, and I didn’t want to miss out on your substantive contributions! Thanks for enriching Money Counselor.

  •  The problem in this country is we are a service economy.  We don’t make anything anymore.  Until that changes, I am not optimistic about the future of our economy. 

  • I echo Jason’s sentiments wholeheartedly. It’s coincidental that I just published an article about this topic. Opportunities are more than ever. It’s glass half-full mentality at work. Thin about it. Young kids today live far better life than previous generations, yet they complain about lack of opportunities. 

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